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NY Public Service Dept. At Odds With Charter CEO Over Broadband Access

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The New York State Department of Public Service isn’t too happy with Charter CEO Thomas Rutledge, they say he’s false advertising Charter’s compliance and obligations to provide New Yorkers broadband access.

A letter to Charter CEO Thomas Rutledge from the Public Service Department says Charter is making false and misleading claims to consumers that it has met Broadband access obligations.

The letter went on to say Spectrum’s overall pattern of unacceptable conduct in New York, call into question the continued viability of Spectrum as a regulated telephone/cable company in the state.

“The situation regarding Charter/Spectrum is getting more serious with each passing day,”Department CEO John B. Rhodes said. “Not only has the company failed to meet its obligations to build out its cable system as required, it is now making patently without in any way acknowledging the findings of the Public Service Commission to the contrary. Access to broadband is essential for economic development and social equity. Charter/Spectrum’s intentional deception of New Yorkers must end now.”

In its letter to CEO Rutledge, the Department said the company knows that it is not meeting its commitment to expand the company’s broadband network in New York to “pass” additional unserved and underserved residences and businesses. Nevertheless, Spectrum continues to assert in advertisements and publications that it has complied with — and even exceeded — its commitment to New York. These representations are demonstrably and materially false, according to the Public Service Department.

It’s not the first time Spectrum has engaged in false advertising. Late last week, the Appellate Division, First Department allowed to move forward a claim by the New York Attorney General that Spectrum has engaged in systematic false advertising about the speed of its internet service.

Spectrum’s conduct raises significant concerns for the company’s customers, shareholders, and New Yorkers in underserved areas that Spectrum has blatantly disregarded.

The Department’s letter directs Spectrum to stop deceptive advertising.

In addition, the Department said it was referring the matter to the Attorney General of the State of New York for further action in light of Spectrum’s misrepresentations to New Yorkers and to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in light of the company’s failure to provide appropriate disclosure to its investors and the market about its failings to honor its commitments to New York and the possibility that the approval of its acquisition of Time Warner may be revoked.

New York’s goal has been to have 100 percent broadband coverage by the end of the year, which included a commitment by Charter/Spectrum to provide broadband coverage to a specified number of homes. By its actions, Charter has not only violated its regulatory obligations to the State, it has deceived and continues to deceive the public.

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